Sanofi warns coronavirus sales boom wil be short-lived

French drugmaker working on several Covid-19 vaccine projects

Sanofi reported a boom in profit and sales from the coronavirus outbreak but warned that it will be short-lived as the pandemic hinders the drugmaker's efforts to get some medicines to patients.

The sales burst of the first quarter, when patients stocked up on diabetes and rare-disease medicines ahead of lockdowns, is waning, the Paris-based company said Friday. The pharma giant attributed about half of its 16 per cent profit gain to Covid-19.

Sanofi’s report also hinted at a worrisome trend that doctors have warned about: new patients not getting treatment for their ailments in the era of Covid-19.

There was a decline in new patients with multiple sclerosis starting on a medicine called Lemtrada due to Covid-19, Sanofi said. And efforts to launch a new cancer drug, Sarclisa, were slowed by the crisis.


Sanofi’s mixed results highlight the pandemic’s complex impact on the pharmaceutical industry.

Like several rivals, the French drugmaker is also working on developing a vaccine, an effort that is costly but could prove very profitable.

The compamy is working on two vaccines projects, one of which is in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, and is engaged in multiple clinical trials to evaluate the response to Covid-19 of two treatments already approved for other diseases.

Sanofi has also started preliminary work with US startup Luminostics to develop an app that will allow people to test themselves for the virus.

Hopes for tackling the virus, which has killed thousands and infected over two million people so far, have been focused on developing a vaccine but Sanofi has said a vaccine, if development meets expectations, will not be ready until 2021.

Roche chief executive Severin Schwan called current projected timelines of 12-18 months for Covid-19 vaccines ambitious. "There is less concern about finding a sucessful vaccine than there is about making the volumes needed,"

Sanofi's CEO Paul Hudson told reporters. "The biggest untold story in Europe right now is the one about number of doses, not number of vaccines."

The company is receiving financial support from the US government for one of its vaccines project but has so far declined to say how much it was spending on its coronavirus vaccines efforts as a whole.

Sanofi was working with risks as it gears up for mass production. The company is hoping to be able to produce over one billion doses of the vaccine it is working on with GSK in a year while it is contemplating the possibility of extending production capacity for another vaccine canditate currently in development with US company Translate Bio.

Sanofi maintained its forecast for earnings to gain about 5 per cent this year on expectations that the pharmaceutical giant will be able to withstand the outbreak’s turmoil.

Its shares were little changed in early Paris trading, falling less than 1 per cent. – Bloomberg / Reuters